Thursday, September 26, 2013

Peterborough to Yulara

September 16:
With the weather forecast showing less than ideal conditions for today, we decided to stay in Peterborough. It's not often that the Weather Bureau gets their information correct but in this case they were spot on. The day consisted of isolated showers with winds from 35 to 50 km/h during the day and the gusts were even stronger.
Too pass the time we drove north to Orroroo for a lovely hot chocolate in the local cafe and later I drove around looking for caches but only found one. The remainder of the day was spent inside the van reading and looking at the Internet to while away the time. At 20:00 the winds outside were still quite strong with enough force to rock the van.
Diatance today 85 kms.

September 17:
We left heading north with the winds coming from the southwest at 20 to 30 km/h, which was an improvement on yesterday. We again passed through Orroroo and continued heading north but both the driver and navigator, missed the turnoff to Craddock and Hawker. It wasn't until just before Wilmington that we realised our mistake, so we continued onto Quorn and camped at Warren Gorge.
Our site was on a rise looking down the gorge. The flies were in abundance here and we were again thankful that we had our fly nets. Apparently the warmer temperatures have brought them out earlier than normal.
Distance today 148 kms.

 September 18:
We were woken during the early hours of the morning by heavy rain, and once daylight arrived we were surrounded by low clouds that gradually disappeared by the time we departed. We passed through Quorn as we headed north to stop at Kanyaka Ruins,
before stopping in Hawker to refuel and have morning tea at one of the local cafes. We continued north for another 70 kms before we turned off the bitumen to travel east through Brachina Gorge. We were on our way to camp at Aroona Ruins in the northern Flinders Ranges National Park, and on the way had to negotiate many rocky creek crossings, and pass many designated camp sites before arriving at our campsite.
The campground is surrounded by the ABC and Heysen Rangers and our campsite overlooked Aroona Creek. Nearby are the ruins of the homestead, built by John Hayward. He arrived here in 1851 and discovered a permanent spring and established Aroona Station with over 3000 sheep. In 1854 he had constructed a five room house that had a continuous supply of running water from the spring. All that remains today are the house foundations, several crumbling walls and fruit trees planted by him. The view from the ruins down the Aroona Valley is spectacular. Again the fly nets were used whenever outside the van.
Distance today 183 kms.

September 19:
We woke this morning to the coldest morning of our travels. It was four degrees inside the van. The weather for the past three days has been anything but ideal, but this morning we have the most magnificent morning without a cloud to be seen. Retracing our steps through Brachina Gorge we again turned north on our way to Leigh Creek where we refueled, and do any last minute shopping, before tackling the Oodnadatta Track.
Leigh Creek is a coal mining town producing brown coal that is shipped by train south to power stations near Port Augusta. It's also the last major town for supplies before heading into the desert areas of South Australia. We stopped in Copley for pies for lunch, before continuing north. We were off to camp at Farina for the evening. It's twenty five years since we last camped here even though we have passed by on other occasion's.
Farina was established in the 1870's in the hope that grain could be grown in the area. The town grew to about 600 people with consistently good seasons but years of drought forced the town's closure. Farina is now a ghost town but a restoration group is preserving the beautiful sandstone buildings and roads.
Distance today 179 kms.

Septenber 20:
Much warmer this morning with thirteen degrees inside the van and another day with cloudless skies. First port of call this morning was Marree, a further 50 kms on which is the starting point for the Birdsville and Oodnadatta Tracks. We stopped whilst I found another cache, before proceeding onto Lake Eyre South which is twelve metres below sea level. We had lunch in the van to escape the ever present flies and later I found another cache.
This is our the 4th trip along the Oodnadatta Track. It is a great route to travel from South Australia to the Northern Territory, and it is much more interesting than the sealed Stuart Highway.
The track follows the route of the old Overland Telegraph Track and Great Northern Railway. There are ruins of fettlers huts, railway sidings and telegraph stations to explore.
Showing the giant water softeners used to prepare water pumped from deep underground bores for the steam locomotive. Water softeners were used to remove harmful minerals from the bore water that caused heavy scaling on the boilers of the steam trains. 
There are formal camping grounds at Coward Springs, William Creek and Oodnadatta or you can just pull in near one of the sidings or dry creek beds. Tonight we had planned to camp at the Beresford railway siding beside the dam, but the water level was down and the area was not very inviting. We continued onto William Creek for the evening, which is situated on Anna Creek Station the largest working cattle station in the world. The corrugated iron pub dates back to the late 1800's. The last time we stayed in the campground was in 2007, when it was clean and inviting even though you are camped on dirt. Unfortunately that is now no longer the case. The showers/toilets were in a state of disrepair and most of the taps besides the sites were not working. The Pub's interior has being changed with the removal of  some of the memorabilia.
Distance today 259 kms.
September 21:
Another beautiful day with lovely clear skies and fourteen degrees inside the van. We stopped along the way to take photos of wooden sleeper's left from the Ghan Railway days. They are found all along the track and we always take one to use as firewood, as they make the best coals for camp oven cooking.
Tonight's camp is at Algebuckina which lies just over 50 km's south east of Oodnadatta.
The Algebuckina bridge over the Neales River is probably the main highlight on the track that is just over 600 km's from Marree to Marla. The railway bridge was and still is the longest in South Australia at 578 metres, and the river is the longest on the Oodnadatta Track. The bridge first opened in 1892 and replaced a low level one that was continually washed away when the river flooded.
The river under the bridge normally has pools of water but was now totally dry, so we wondered how much water would be in the waterhole which lies several kms downstream.
The waterhole is by far the best along the Oodnadatta Track and makes for a lovely camp in such dry surrounding country.
Distance today 144 kms.

September 22:
We slept with all the windows and door open last night because the van interior temperature was still twenty eight degrees when we retired for the evening. Another beautiful morning with van temperature at eighteen degrees and another glorious day ahead. We ventured out for our first cup of coffee for the morning before the flies arrived in their thousands.
It was another late start this morning with just on 60 km's to Oodnadatta for a fuel stop. The wind had picked up again and we were driving into a severe head wind. The Pink Roadhouse provides services for locals and travellers which include fuel, postal facilities, meals and repairs.
John McDouall Stuart was the first to explore this region in the 1850's. The route he used and mapped around 1860 was adopted as part of the Overland Telegraph Line. Later this route was also used by Afgans using camel trains to supply goods to Central Australia. When the train line was built, Oodnadatta became the terminus for the railway. The line was closed in 1981 and a new one built further west.
Instead of continuing on towards Marla we decided to travel 90 km's SW from Oodnadatta to Arckaringa Station, where we thought we would spend the night, but arriving earlier than we expected, and with the strong winds blowing and whipping up great dust storms, we decided to continue on towards the Stuart Highway. It was more enjoyable sitting inside the ute with the air con on.
Once we left the Oodnadatta to Coober Pedy road heading towards Arckaringa Station the road deteriorated badly. The Painted Desert is on Arckaringa Station and that was the reason for our detour. But to do the area justice you would need to be here for sunrise and sunset to get the full benefit of the changing colours.
After bypassing Arckaringa Station, we passed Copper Hill and Mt Willoughby Station's. This section of track is through hilly and rough country which makes for a lovely change from the Oodnadatta Track. We stopped at Cadney Park whilst I pumped up the tyres for our run up the highway towards Marla and the Northern Territory border. We refuelled at Marla before pushing on to Agnes Creek 85 kms further on for the evening. We are not quite sure if we have problems with our solar regulator circuitry or with our batteries. The solar regulator shut down the system just before midnight with a message of "load off" and displaying 11.4 batt volts.
Distance today 395 kms.
September 23:
Another lovely morning with van temperature at twenty two degrees and light winds from the south. As soon as the sun appeared, the batteries started to charge so we turned the fridge back on, and over the next hour or so everything was back to normal. By now we had transferred all the freezer contents from the van to our Engel fridge that was now running as our freezer. We left heading towards the Lasserter Highway were were turned west for the run to Yulara, and into another strong head wind that was playing havoc with my fuel consumption.
We stopped at the Mt Conner lookout for a photo,
before stopping at Curtin Springs for lunch. Checked their diesel prices at $2.31 cpl and continued onto Yulara.
Total bliss tonight, and its five days since we have been able to have our drinks and dinner outside the van with just the occasional fly around and without fly nets. We left the van off 240v power this evening and just ran with the vans 12v system but just before midnight the system shutdown again at 11.4v.
Distance today 416 kms.

September 24:
Apart from our battery problems we woke this morning to another beautiful day. Van has been on 240v power since last night. We are now fully aware that the van batteries are unable to hold their charge overnight, and that's even with the fridge switched off. Our batteries are two months short of lasting five years so I suppose we can take comfort in that. Looks like either Kalgoorlie or possibly Perth for new batteries. We have a Honda generator that we can use, over the next fourteen days until we arrive in Kalgoorlie. Filled up with diesel here at Yulara at $2.22 cpl and the man behind me was groaning about paying $2.45 cpl for unleaded.
Distance today 10 kms.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


We recently joined the ranks of the Geocaching fraternity. The purpose of Geocaching is to find containers called geocaches that have been hidden. You can either use a smartphone like an iPhone or a dedicated GPS and then log your finds online. For those who would like to know more you can get all the info at:

As an example, the Oodnadatta Track that runs from Marree to Marla in South Australia has thirteen caches hidden along its length. As a premium member (cost of $30 per year) you can create a route and download these caches to your device and then look for them as you travel along. Some people may ask why would you bother doing this, well it gets you out of the car and exercising and you get to see places you would not normally go to.
For the past week we have found many caches in the towns we have visited and at many of the rest stops between these towns.

Cobar to Peterborough

September 13: Today's drive is relatively short in terms of time and distance compared to the past two days. Tonight we are camping at the Cobar Reservoir. There are in fact two reservoir's in Cobar. The first known as the Old Res, was constructed in the late 1800's after copper was discovered. The other reservoir known as the Newey or new tank is on the outskirts of the town. It has a boat ramp and flushing toilets and is our stop for this evening. The reservoir is a great spot to camp with lots of water birds and a lovely walk around the foreshore.
Distance today 214 km's.

September 14:
We stopped at MacCullouchs Range rest area for a coffee break and saw the kids waiting for the playground to open:
Continuing west on the Barrier Highway we have decided to break our trip and stay just outside Wilcannia which lies on the Darling River. It was once a busy river port and during the1880's was the 3rd busiest port in Australia but just like the old wharves, the town is now in disrepair. For those that may be interested, there is now camping available at Warrawong which has Darling River frontage and is on a working property several kilometres south of Wilcannia. They offer secluded campsites along the river and billabong. and this is our camp for this evening.
Distance today 257 km's.
September 15: We have camped in Broken Hill on many occasions and also at Silverton, but today we are just passing through. We filled up with fuel before crossing into South Australia. We had planned to camp at Yunta, but because we had such a strong tail wind we pressed on and are now camped at Peterborough.
Distance today 483 km's.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Heading West

September 11:
After weeks of preparation our van was fully packed and we were eager to be on the road this morning. It's just on twelve months since our last extended trip away into Northern and Western Queensland, but it seems much longer than that. We overcame the drudgery of driving south down the freeway for nearly 300 km's. We passed Kempsey with it's wonderful new bypass road completed earlier this year, before passing Taree and using the new bypass at Bulahdelah, then turning west at Hexham to travel through Maitland and Singleton. Tonight we are camping at Jerry's Plains Recreation Ground and there were two other vans when we arrived. It's in Camps7 #201.
Distance today 463 km's.
September 12:
We often use the Golden Highway that runs from Newcastle through to Dubbo, because it gives us the most direct route across New South Wales, when travelling to South Australia and beyond. Heading further west on the Golden Highway we passed by many coal mining facilities and then through lovely countryside with horse breeding studs lining the road. We passed through Merriwa, Dunedoo and Mendooran which has a lovely free camp on the Castlereagh River. We stopped in Warren to empty our toilet cassette and top up our water tanks before spending the evening camped at Egan Weir on the outskirts of town. Its listed in the Wiki Camps mobile App and is on the Macquarie River. There are no facilities.
Distance today 370 km's.